In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_ciarjx8fjqum8uh6glepanoyyny

Nightcrawler

A perfect engine of corrosive satire, this drama follows the adventures of an amoral cameraman to its logical and unsettling end.

Thumb_632jg1wy6pgvxzxf5nao5pinefe

Horns

There are some clever ideas in the script from Keith Bunin, based on the novel by Joe Hill, but they get mixed up in some…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

In Memoriam

In Memoriam Movie Review
  |  

Someone sends Jonathan a snarky e-mail. Two naked students, apparently making love at the time, fell off the roof of a campus building in Chicago and were killed. Jonathan is appalled that anyone could find this funny. In the painfully true opening scenes of "In Memoriam," he cannot get the deaths out of his mind. He's driven to begin what he calls an "investigation" into who the students were and what led them to the rooftop.

Stephen Cone's film "In Memoriam" never steps wrong in its first half hour, which I watched in fascination. Jonathan (Ian Forester) talks to the friends of the dead students and even to their parents (one set more willing than the other). It seems to him wrong that two people would die like that, in the midst of happiness. Forester is particularly effective in finding the right notes for his sorrow, which is not personal but existential.

I thought I vaguely recalled a real news item about deaths like that, but I couldn't find it online. What I did find were stories about four other students dying after falls from various campus buildings — one while doing a class project on "filming from high places." Those stories permitting comments included equally heartless snark. On the Internet, trolls can indulge the rotten festering of their shallow minds.

Jonathan eventually decides to re-enact the last hours of the dead couple in the film. And that's where Cone's own film goes — not wrong, exactly, but in a less compelling direction. He recruits helpers, he finds a cameraman, he auditions actors; they all pitch in together on a tiny budget. They seem to be reasonable people engaged in a plausible undertaking. These elements are possibly not a million miles distant from what Cone himself did.

He's a sure-minded director, and "In Memoriam" is a touching film. Its final hour has convincing performances and avoids any horrors along the lines of "Hey, gang! Let's make a movie!" The scenes with the two sets of parents are acutely seen. There are some subplots, one involving a possible romance, and the other a sublimated one, which are handled with admirable subtlety. A couple of moments with music seem somewhat obtrusive. The reality level is otherwise convincing.

And yet Cone never quite regains the force of his opening scene. I was thinking about that. How could he? I think perhaps Jonathan's initial obsession is so absorbing that we almost don't want it to find a release. If the opening Jonathan sequences were combined with one particular later moment, you would have an incredibly effective short film. Here is a paradox: Cone opens so well that he sets the bar too high for the rest of the film. "People die," one of his characters says. Yes, and mankind has spent a long time trying to deal with that fact, which has such an irrefutable finality.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Christopher Nolan Comments Section Bingo

An installment of comments section Bingo focusing on Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar."

"Injun Summer," by John T. McCutcheon

For decades, John T, McCutcheon's "Injun Summer" appeared every autumn on...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus